Rory backs United Utilities Winter Wise Warmth campaign for elderly Cumbrians

Rory Stewart, a long-time supporter of campaigns across Cumbria which aid the elderly during periods of extreme cold, is now supporting United Utilities, who have launched their Winter Wise Warmth campaign to help isolated older people in the county as temperatures start to fall. The local MP aims to raise awareness of the help that United Utilities are offering; as well as helping householders to fight the freeze in their own homes, the water company is urging people to support Contact the Elderly, a national charity tackling isolation among older people, by organising regular Sunday afternoon tea parties.

Contact the Elderly is recruiting volunteer hosts and seeking guests in an attempt to set up its first group in Cumbria for which United Utilities has donated £3,000 in DIY store vouchers to the charity which will be used by volunteers from the water company to help Contact the Elderly guests buy pipe lagging materials and other items to prepare their homes for winter. The partnership is part of the United Utilities Winter Wise campaign to spread practical advice on preventing the misery of a burst frozen pipe.

Rory said: “Our traditional build housing and low average wages make us very vulnerable to the threat of burst waterpipes here in Cumbria. These obstacles are, for the elderly, compounded, and I would hate to think of older people facing expensive and unaffordable plumbing bills this winter, which is proving to be a very fierce one. This is a really important awareness-raising campaign, and I would urge everyone to take the time to make sure their water pipes at home are ready for this winter’s cold weather.”

John Suddes, United Utilities water network manager, encouraged people to help themselves and others protect their own homes and avoid the misery of burst pipes. He said: “It’s great that Rory is backing our campaign. It will help us spread the word to even more people about the importance of lagging their water pipes and what to do if they have a freeze or burst in their own homes this winter. Hopefully it will be a boost to our partner Contact the Elderly’s great work in Cumbria as well.”

Supported by a network of volunteers, Contact the Elderly organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone.

Gwen Lightfoot, North West regional development officer for Contact the Elderly, said: “Winter is a particularly difficult time for isolated older people. By partnering with United Utilities, we hope to raise awareness and encourage people to come forward and help make a difference. All we ask from our volunteers  is a little of their spare time to either host a tea party in their own home, or drive and accompany guests to a tea party and then deliver them home safely afterwards. It is fantastic to know that the United Utilities volunteers will also be helping older people prepare their homes for winter.”

United Utilities recommends that householders:

·         Lag pipes so they are much less likely to freeze

·         Find and label your stop tap – the tap which controls water supply to your house, so you know where to turn the water off if you do get a burst.

·         Keep the number of a good plumber handy, just in case

·         Find out more about becoming a Contact The Elderly volunteer by visiting  http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/ or getting in touch with North West Development Officer Gwen Lightfoot on 01925 728969 or email: [email protected]the-elderly.org.uk

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